Waorani indigenous community files legal action against Ecuador

The Waorani indigenous community in Ecuador's Amazon denounced imminent risk of physical and cultural extermination.

The Waorani indigenous community in Ecuador's Amazon filed legal action against the state for failing to act and establish a concerted emergency response to fight the spread of the coronavirus within Indigenous communities.

The Waorani indigenous community representatives said in a press conference: "Despite our continued warnings regarding the risks that we face, oil companies' operations, and the legal and illegal logging of our forests has continued, putting our people and relatives in voluntary isolation at imminent risk of physical and cultural extermination."

The representatives reiterated that the main factor of contagion comes from timber and oil companies. "How is it possible that during a global pandemic that threatens people's lives, the government continues to extract oil from indigenous territories, thus exposing us to the coronavirus? It is clear that they care more about money than our lives," said President of the Coordinating Council of the Waorani Nationality of Ecuador-Pastaza (CONCONAWEP) Nemonte Nenquimo. 

"The first Waorani communities infected with coronavirus are located along the oil roads," she explained, adding: "Oil pollutes our rivers and causes climate change, and now it is bringing more diseases to our territory."

The legal action was filed in the capital, Quito, and consists in demanding precautionary measures. In the lawsuit, the Waorani demand urgent actions to be taken in coordination with the other involved instances, including the provincial authorities and the presidents of the communities to protect lives in a way adapted to the measures already taken by the communities.